Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Running the Race...

I am currently engaged in what is likely the most difficult thing I've ever challenged myself to. It's hard, grueling even. It's rewarding, yet takes more of me than I ever imagined possible. It's fulfilling, yet has stripped away much of the wall I had built around myself. It's beautiful and ugly all at once.

I am training for a mini marathon that will be held on April 24, 2010.

I am not a runner by nature. I am nowhere near it, if truth be told. Sadly, I've spent the past years (lots of them) sitting on the sidelines, feeling as though I wasn't worth being in the race at all... any kind of race.

But no more.

In the past couple of years, God has healed so many hurts in my heart and my life. He has truly renewed in me a steadfast spirit (Psalm 51). He has taken hurts from my past and allowed them to be used for good now. He has restored me. He has placed people in my life that have taught me that it's okay to be real, and that I can risk being vulnerable. It's been slow and painful, yet it's been beautiful. I feel whole.

Many of you know that in my past is sexual assault/abuse. I've never talked about it here, but I feel the need to do so now. Some of you may have walked that road as well. If so, know that you are not alone. Know that healing is possible and worth the work! Part of my journey has caused me to doubt myself, and that's one of the greatest parts of healing. I'm learning again the worth that God gives me through His Son. WOW... I'm amazed at how much He loves me!

This April marks 20 years since I was assaulted. In the years since that time, April has been hard to face. It brings back memories that are hard to handle sometimes, even after all of these years. A few years I have been sad, disconnected, defeated.


This year, I am whole, content, connected, ready to face the memories, knowing that they are just that.. memories. And memories cannot hurt me! So, I will run. I will run for the joy that God has restored in me. I will run for the freedom I feel in Christ. I will run to celebrate the pure joy that my family gives to me each and every day. I will run to show all other survivors that God heals all, and you are not the abuse you have endured. You are more than that. I will run to celebrate the fact that I am beautifully made in the image of the Creator of all that is and is to come.

I will run as a praise to God. Each step of that 13 miles will be a worship experience. I will run what I can, walk when I need to. And I will smile, knowing that God has brought about more healing and restoration in me than I ever dreamed possible.

Pray for me. I'm afraid. I doubt my ability to finish, yet I will persevere.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hunders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God". Hebrews 12:1-2

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A letter to my children...

This week at work, I overheard a conversation between a mother and her two children, in which she told them "I'll do whatever it takes to make you happy. Don't worry, kids. Mom can make you happy no matter what. Let's go to Walmart, then McDonalds". My heart was broken from that conversation. There is NOTHING at Walmart or McDonalds that will ever bring about lasting joy. Happiness if temporary sweet friend. Anyway, all of that led me to spend some time thinking about what it is that I have taught my children that I desperately want for them. So, here it is...

Dear Bryan & Ellie,

You may find it hard to believe what I'm about to write here, but please hear me out before you freak out!

As your mom, I have many things that I want and pray for in your lives. But, I do NOT want you to be happy. (I told you it would be surprising; hear me out here!)

For the past year or so, God has really been dealing with me on this, the idea of being happy in life. And the more I've learned, the more I want to pass along to you, my legacy. You see kids, happiness is something that is determined by your situation in life. It's fleeting, to say the least. I'm happy when I get a good buy on a sweet purse. But a purse will never change my life. I'm happy when you pick up your toys or dirty clothes. But when you don't, where does that leave me? Happiness is a great thing, don't get me wrong; it feels good. Real good. But when I think of what it is that I want most for your lives, it's just not there.

I've watched both of you experience happiness. Bryan, you are happy when you get a drum beat down or when you get the "okay" on having a band practice here at the house. But what about those days that we can't have your friends over, or the beat is too hard to perfect in one practice session. What do you feel then? Ellie, you are happy when you are getting beads in your hair or getting a book read to you. But what about the times we have to tell you "no" about the book or whatever it is you want to play? Will your happiness fade with each "no" you get in life?

Really kids, it's not that I don't ever want you to experience happiness; it's just that it's not my goal for you to be happy all of your lives. And I don't want it to be your goal either. I never want to watch you spend your life chasing after something that is always contingent on your surroundings. Because let me tell you, your surroundings will change all the time, from year to year, week to week, day to day, and moment to moment.

So, what DO I want for you?? Well, for one thing, I want you to be CONTENT.

Contentment is so much better than happiness, kids. Seriously better. Contentment is that crazy thing that makes us still smile, even though we didn't get our way, didn't get a raise (in allowance or at work), didn't finish a project when we had hoped, when a friend treats us not-so-friendly, when we have to do homework instead of play, when we can't go out to eat because we are doing the Dave Ramsey thing. Contentment comes from within. And within those of us who have a relationship with Christ, the Spirit of God is living in us. THAT is what gives contentment kids.

In Scripture, Paul went through some tough times... some would say horrible times. Yet, he said this.. "I've have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want". (Phil 4:11b-12)

That is what I want for you kids. I want you to be at peace with your Father, no matter what the world is throwing your way. There will be times in your life when everything you touch works well. And sadly, there will be times when nothing seems to go your way. Yet God is always the same, always with you, always loving you, always forgiving. That gives contentment. My prayer is that you learn to grasp that in your lives.

Contentment leads to spiritual maturity, I do believe. It helps us to realize the blessings of our lives. It is never going to be the materialistic things in life that give you peace, joy and fulfillment. Only God can bring about lasting contentment. I pray you are able to find it. Life is one heck of a ride, kids! Make each moment count!

I love you,